The court-martial of a former Ramstein Air Base airman accused of playing a role in the 2005 beating death of a Kaiserslautern, Germany-based soldier is under way in Arkansas.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerome Jones faces six charges, including involuntary manslaughter, for allegedly beating Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson during an initiation into the Gangster Disciples on July 3, 2005. Johnson was found dead in his Kaiserslautern barracks room the next day, and his cause of death was ruled as multiple blunt-force trauma. If convicted on all charges, Jones faces a maximum sentence of 59 years in confinement.

Jones’ court-martial began last week at Little Rock Air Force Base, where he currently serves as an aircraft maintainer assigned to the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Previously, Jones was assigned to Ramstein.

Jones is one of 11 former or current U.S. servicemembers who were either present for or participated in a six-minute beating-in initiation ceremony for Johnson. To date, two soldiers and one airman have been convicted and sentenced to confinement in the case, and another soldier was acquitted.

Jones has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his jury is composed of three enlisted airmen and two officers, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Katherine Garcia, 19th Airlift Wing spokeswoman.

The prosecution rested Tuesday, and the defense began calling its witnesses the same day, Garcia said. The court-martial could continue into early next week, she said.

In testimony at previous courts-martial, witnesses testified that Jones was a high-ranking member in the Kaiserslautern-area Gangster Disciples. The gang numbered around 30 to 40 members and provoked several fights at area bars and clubs earlier this decade, according to previous testimony.

Jones is also charged in trying to persuade a witness not to testify, according to an Air Force document outlining his charges. After Johnson’s death, Jones reportedly told a potential witness and gang member to "make sure that you put the word out that everybody better shut up, don’t be talking and anybody that talks can cancel Christmas," according to the document. Jones is also charged with using marijuana and hindering the apprehension of the gang’s leader, former Ramstein Air Base airman Rico Williams, by raising funds to help Williams hide.

One soldier and one airman present at the alleged beating have either been granted immunity or made a deal with the government in exchange for their testimony. Both the Army’s Latisha Ellis and the Air Force’s Themitrios Saroglou have testified in Jones’ court-martial, Garcia said.

A Germany-based soldier is scheduled to stand court-martial soon for his alleged role in Johnson’s beating and subsequent death. The court-martial of Army Pvt. Bobby Morrissette is scheduled to begin in Vilseck, Germany, on Feb. 23. Originally charged in 2006 with murdering Johnson, Morrissette is now accused of committing involuntary manslaughter, among other crimes related to Johnson’s death and his alleged gang involvement.

In July 2007, Army Pvt. Terrence Norman was sentenced to the maximum punishment of 12 years confinement in the case and given a dishonorable discharge. That same month, Army Sgt. Rodney Howell was sentenced to 6 years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge for his role in Johnson’s death. In May 2008, Airman Nicholas Sims was sentenced to 8 years of confinement, a dishonorable discharge and reduction to the lowest rank.

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